Ten Ten

IssueMay 2010

Hello everyone! This article here is supposed to be about how Peace News is getting on as a member of the 10:10 initiative to cut carbon emissions by 10% in 2010. For us, that mainly means using less electricity, switching off appliances and so on.

Anyhow, this month we respond to a criticism we’ve received of the 10:10 organisation. We’ve had a letter criticising 10:10 for accepting the carbon-cutting pledge of MBDA Missile Systems.

MBDA produces more than 3,000 missiles a year, including the Exocet. It has 10,000 workers employed across four European countries and sells to more than 90 armed forces worldwide.

At the same time that it accepted MBDA, last November, 10:10 rejected Manchester airport, despite the company’s plans to make the airport buildings carbon neutral by 2015.

10:10 said that although every pledge to cut emissions was welcome, it would be “misleading” to accept the application as the airport was planning to increase the number of passengers using the airport each year. The airport business plan actually projects a doubling of passenger numbers by 2030.

So 10:10 concluded: “It was clear to us that although Manchester Airport Group could technically comply with the letter of the 10:10 commitment, they did not intend to comply with the spirit of it; all they really wanted from us was a 10:10 greenwash.”

The question is whether the same could be said of MBDA Missile Systems.

Here, we think, we run into the inevitable realities of single-issue campaigning. In the 1980s, CND welcomed Tories Against Cruise and Trident (the wonderfully-named “TACT”), and has long quoted military leaders keen to ditch nuclear weapons in order to build up stronger conventional armed forces. The Fairtrade Foundation works with supermarkets, even with Starbucks.

In January, the student campaigning group People & Planet won a great Fairtrade victory when it persuaded the supermarket chain Tesco to double the number of Fairtrade cotton school uniforms they stock.

(People & Planet’s “Wear Fair” campaign aims for all UK schools to have Fairtrade cotton uniforms by 2015 – their research shows that around 70% of school and college students want their uniforms to be made from Fairtrade cotton.)

Tesco, Starbucks, unrepentantly militarist generals, the Conservative party, are all in various ways obstacles to human progress. Nevertheless, they can sometimes, while pursuing their own interests, be channelled to assist in human progress.

The same goes, in our view, for MBDA Missile Systems and the campaign to prevent climate chaos. Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Stupid and founder of 10:10, said: “Of course arms manufacturers can reduce their emissions by 10%. What they do with the rest of their time is a different matter, on which we couldn’t possibly comment.

“10:10 is about reducing emissions right across British society, and that means everyone. As long as arms manufacturers are a part of British society, it’s just as important for them to reduce their emissions as it is for the rest of us.”